Ask Dr. Webbie
Is there an Internet question you'd like to see answered in a future edition of Website Compass? Email your question to DrWebbie@WebsiteCompass.com.
To assist him in answering your question as specifically as possible, be sure to include the following: the name of the browser you are using (i.e. Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 2.0, etc.), the name of the email software you are using (i.e. Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0, OS 10.4 Mail, etc.), and the version of your system software (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)
QUESTION: I still use Windows 7 and heard that Microsoft is planning to end support for it. What should I do now?
First of all, you're not alone in facing this issue. According to StatCounter, nearly 27 percent of all Windows users in the U.S. are still running Windows 7.
You're already doing one thing right, and that's planning ahead. The next thing you need to do is upgrade to Windows 10. Here's why: Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, but extended support will remain in effect until January 14, 2020. After that, you could continue to use the Windows 7 operating system (OS), but you would be doing so at your own risk. Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for the OS, yet new viruses are being developed all the time. The longer you use an unsupported OS, the greater the chance that your computer will become infected.
You can download Windows 10 from the Microsoft website or buy the software on a thumb drive from a retailer such as Amazon, Best Buy, or Walmart. The installation is fairly simple. Using the detailed instructions provided by Microsoft, you reboot your PC and follow the on-screen prompts. The process takes about an hour depending on the age of your computer. Before you begin that process though, be sure to perform a backup, preserving the contents of your computer on an external drive or in cloud storage just to be safe.
An alternative is to purchase a new PC with Windows 10 already installed. If you can afford it and are in the market for a new computer, this option offers even greater security.
QUESTION: With so much misinformation being spread online these days, how can I verify content before I share it on social media?
It's getting increasingly difficult to tell fake news stories from genuine fact-based ones. As the old saying goes, "Trust, but verify." Here are some tips you can use to judge for yourself whether the information (and its source) can be trusted:
- Check the domain name. Does the URL have any unusual or extra characters (for example, abcnews.com.co)?
- Check the story on hoax websites. Is the content flagged as a hoax on any of the fake news debunking websites like snopes.com?
- Check other news outlets. Is the story being reported by other reputable news outlets?
- Check for sources. Does the article attribute its facts to an authoritative source, even if the source is unnamed?
- Research the author. What else has the author published? If the article does not identify an author, beware! These sites are useful resources when doing research:
While social media platforms are among the most effective channels for disseminating news broadly and quickly, it can be a double-edged sword. These platforms can also easily disseminate misinformation. We all need to do our part to be responsible social media users.